Written by Lt. Jonathan B. Bernhardt.
For you I serve.
These are the four simple words that end every email sent from the desk of Petty Officer 1st Class Michael J. Sanborn. As one of six full-time support members at Port Security Unit 305 in Fort Eustis, Va., Sanborn works tirelessly every day to advance the readiness of the unit. Although the unit drills only once per month and for two weeks each year, Sanborn and the other full-time support members ensure the unit is ready for recall in support of Coast Guard incident commanders or combatant commanders around the world.
The Coast Guard has eight port security units and each one is capable of deploying around the world within 96 hours to provide maritime and landside security to U.S. assets and personnel. The unit’s full-time staff – which includes an active duty lieutenant commander, gunner’s mate, machinery technician, yeoman and storekeeper – fills a critical role in the day-to-day life of the port security unit; they ensure the unit is ready to go when called.
With a long history of support to commanders around the world since 1995, Port Security Unit 305 has successfully deployed to New York City in 2001 in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002, 2006 and 2009; Rota, Spain, in 2003; and most recently, to Kuwait as part of Commander Task Group 56.5 in 2012.
As one of the senior enlisted leaders of the Waterborne Security Division, Sanborn embodies the leadership traits Robert K. Greenleaf has defined as “servant leadership.” According to Greenleaf, the servant-leader “focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. The servant-leader puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.” Sanborn always puts members first in order to get more qualified and proficient in their positions, which increases overall unit readiness and helps members advance in their rates.
“BM1 Sanborn is the epitome of the servant-leader. Whether it’s an all-hands email to Division members, conducting classroom training or doing pre-boards and check-rides after normal working hours, he provides the steady leadership, mentorship and fellowship that will serve the PSU community well,” said Chief Petty Officer Ken Layman, the port security unit’s boat chief.
Upon arriving in May 2011 after a successful tour at Boatswain’s Mate “A” School at Training Center Yorktown, Sanborn hit the ground running. According to the unit’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Michael J. Ferullo, “Petty Officer Sanborn immediately took charge of long-range qualification planning. He arrived just as the unit was returning from its six-month deployment and as the unit received six of the new 32-foot Transportable Port Security Boats to replace the legacy 25-foot Boston Whaler TPSB.” B
Sanborn organized the efforts to upgrade members’ qualifications with four separate boat colleges. From December 2012 through April 2013, Sanborn took a lead role, along with a Deployable Operations Group assist team, to organize and execute this effort. These colleges were an unparalleled success and led to the re-qualifications of 14 coxswains, eight engineers and 23 crewmembers with more than 485 hours underway with the completion of 2,938 individual tasks.
“Always the consummate professional, BM1’s work ethic, attitude and demeanor have been an integral part of our success,” said Ferullo.
While conducting the various boat colleges, Sanborn also reorganized the unit’s rescue and survival system and water survival training program. He mentored junior petty officers and oversaw efforts to update the unit’s files and ordering mechanisms as well as on-site storage.
Showing his pride in service not only through mission execution, Sanborn has also served as one of the unit’s de-facto historians. With a passion for photography, Sanborn records unit events, including the port security unit’s participation in the 57th Presidential Inauguration parade in January 2013.
With his personal watch-words of “For you I serve,” Sanborn’s compass always points towards helping others and keeping the Coast Guard’s heritage and service values of selfless sacrifice close to his heart. His efforts keep Port Security Unit 305 on course for whatever comes the unit’s way.